Past scholars

Dr. Christopher G. Wilson

Imperial College London, Division of Biology

Project: Staying healthy without sex: molecular mechanisms of immunity in a group of obligately clonal invertebrates

Dr Christopher G. Wilson

Freshwater habitats all over the world are teeming with microscopic animals called bdelloid rotifers. Remarkably, every individual is female: bdelloids stopped producing males millions of years ago, and no longer have sex. Now, they simply lay unfertilized eggs that hatch into genetically identical daughters. Their continuing success is a puzzle for evolutionary theory. Animals in a population with no genetic variability are all vulnerable to the same diseases, and ought to be exterminated by devastating epidemics. How have bdelloids avoided this fate for so long? Using molecular techniques, I am examining their response to infection by a deadly parasitic fungus, to understand how they manage to resist diseases despite their unusual reproductive habits.